The general position of the many present-day followers of Yahweh is that Yahushua the messiah was resurrected on the seventh-day Sabbath.
For them, it seems that the idea of the messiah being resurrected on the first day of the week (Sunday), which would also coincide with the Christian holiday of Easter, is just too repugnant to consider.
Besides, even the term Christian is offensive to many of these individuals. Throw in the Roman Catholic Church for most of the blame and, now you’re really working up a nasty brew!
Is there any way to actually determine the exact day of the week on which Yahushua the messiah was resurrected?
When the evidence is properly evaluated, this study will provide proof which will demonstrate that the actual day of Yahushua’s resurrection is fully attainable.
First, Yahushua tells the scribes and Pharisees that the only sign of his messiahship that would be given to an evil and adulterous generation is “the sign of Jonah the prophet.”
For even as the prophet Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so will the son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. (Matthew 12:38-40; see Luke 11:29-30)
In this story, Jonah was cast into the sea where a great fish swallowed him. “And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17)
At the end of this ordeal, Jonah was vomited out onto dry land. (Jonah 2:10) In his prayer, Jonah makes mention that he was in sheol, the state of death. (Jonah 2:2) Simply put, Jonah was dead for three days and three nights. This period, the messiah notes, was a sign to the Jewish leaders.
It is important to notice the unusual phrasing “three days and three nights.” The daytime is counted first, then the night. In Hebrew, a complete day is counted by night first, then the day. In Jonah 1:17, it does not say “three nights and three days,” which would necessitate a three-day period (nights first, then days).
There is no inference by the messiah or in the passage from Jonah that these days and nights of Jonah’s ordeal consisted of three complete 24-hour periods, as some have groundlessly asserted.
The Hebrew only means that Jonah was swallowed by the fish on the first day, sometime during the daylight hours, spent the next two nights and days inside the fish, and was vomited out sometime during the third and last night on the fourth day of the event. Jonah was dead inside the fish for only three days and three nights.
The Third Day After
So far, this is what we can glean: the messiah was dead during three daylight and three nighttime periods. He was raised sometime during the night of the third day AFTER the day he was murdered (i.e., on the fourth day).
From that time Yahushua began to show his disciples that it was necessary for him to go away to Jerusalem, and to suffer many things from the elders, and chief priests and scribes, and to be killed, and the third day to be ἐγερθῆναι (egerthenai; to be roused from sleep). (Matthew 16:21 ; see Luke 9:21-22)
The expression “the third day,” found in both Matthew and Luke, is shown by the parallel verse in Mark to mean the third day AFTER the day Yahushua was killed.
And he began to teach them that it was necessary for the son of man to suffer, and to be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and to be killed, and μετὰ (meta; AFTER) three days ἀναστῆναι (anastenai; to rise). (Mark 8:31)
The Greek term μετὰ (meta) means, “prop. denoting accompaniment; ‘amid’ (local or causal); modified variously according to the case (gen. association, or acc. succession) with which it is joined” Strong’s Greek #3326; “of Time, after, next to” Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon #501.
Therefore μετὰ (meta) carries with it not only the idea of being “after” but to be “in association,” “amid,” and “to accompany.” Accordingly, Yahushua taught them that within or amidst the third day AFTER his death, he would be resurrected.
Important to note is that the variant text of Mark 9:31-32 (see 10:34), has the Greek word μετὰ (meta) which indicates a reading of “and μετὰ (meta; AFTER) THE THREE DAYS ARISE,” i.e., amid the third day after the day he is killed he would rise from the dead. (George Ricker Berry’s Interlinear NT, p. 118, note m.)
In these passages the expression “the third day” is counterbalanced in other verses and variants with “after the third day,” or “amid the third day after,” showing that both phrases mean the same thing. On the third day AFTER the day that the messiah was placed on the stake and killed, he would be aroused from his sleep and rise from the dead.
Our next step is to input this information with the data concerning the day of Yahushua’s execution and the day of his resurrection.
Even the Jewish religious leaders were fully aware of Yahushua’s claim that he would rise from the dead on the third day after his execution.
Now on the morning, which is after the Preparation Day, were gathered together the chief priests and the Pharisees to Pilate, saying, Sir, we have called to mind that this deceiver said while living, μετὰ (meta; AFTER) three days I will be aroused from sleep. Command therefore to be secure the sepulcher until the third day, LEST HIS DISCIPLES COME AT NIGHT stealing him away, and say to the people, He is risen from the dead; and shall be the last deception worse than the first. (Matthew 27:62-64)
The relevant expression more precisely means, “amid the third day after I will be aroused from sleep.” The Jewish leaders knew that, if this prophecy were to be fulfilled, the disciples of Yahushua would have to take the body during the night (i.e., after sundown ending the weekly Sabbath). Also, notice that the religious leaders understood Yahushua’s sayings to mean that he would be raised during the night of the third day after.
This demonstrates that Yahushua had already taught this detail. Accordingly, the lie, as the Jewish leaders saw it, would be enhanced if some of his disciples stole the body at night on the third day. Therefore, the guards were to remain stationed until the end of that third night.
Herein lies the reason that when the women arrived at the tomb, there were still guards stationed there. Yet the women came just before dawn because they knew it was time for the guards to be dismissed so that they could now enter the tomb.
Also regarding the day of Yahushua’s resurrection, the passages from Matthew 17:22-23, 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:33, 24:1-8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; and Acts 10:39-41 all state that the messiah was raised the third day.
The messiah died on the Jewish Preparation Day (Abib 14), being the day BEFORE the Jewish high Sabbath of Abib 15 when the Jewish religious leaders, dominated by the Pharisaic practice, ate their Passover meal (Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54).
The messiah died at about the ninth hour of the day (about 2:45-3:00 P.M., present reckoning), at approximately the same time that the Jews were offering their Passover victim (Josephus, Wars, 6:9:3). He was buried just before sunset, as the Jewish high Sabbath (Abib 15) was coming on (Matthew 27:57; Luke 23:52-54; John 19:42).
Therefore, the messiah was killed and buried within the daylight hours of the 14th of Abib. This period represents the first day of the “three days and three nights” that had been prophesied.
Sunday Early Dawn Resurrection
The time of Yahushua’s resurrection is established by the records as taking place at early dawn during the nighttime hours of the first day of the week, i.e., on the 17th of Abib per the following:
And the Sabbath having passed, Mary the Magdalene and Mary the (mother) of Jacob and Salome bought aromatics, that when coming (to the tomb) they might anoint him (Yahushua). (Mark 16:1)
Luke informs us that these women had kept the weekly Sabbath before coming to the tomb on the first day of the week. (Luke 23:56-24:1a)
Therefore, Mark demonstrates that their first act after the weekly Sabbath day had passed was to go to some merchants and buy more aromatics—to add to the spices and ointments they had prepared on the 15th (Luke 23:56a)—so that they might anoint the messiah’s body.
Next, Matthew, Luke, and John all inform us that these women left home while it was still dark. Matthew reports:
Ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων, τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων (Opse de sabbaton te epiphoskouse eis mian sabbaton; But after the close of the week, drawing toward the dawn into the first of the week), ἦλθεν (helthen; left to go) Mary the Magdalene and the other Mary to view the grave. (Matthew 28:1)
The book of Matthew clearly demonstrates that the women went to see the grave just before dawn. Luke, meanwhile, makes the following comment:
But the first of the σαββάτων (sabbaton; week), ὄρθρου βαθέως (orthrou batheos; at pre-dawn) they were ἦλθον ἐπὶ (helthon epi; going toward) the tomb, bringing aromatics which they had prepared, and some others with them. (Luke 24:1)
John defines this period with even more preciseness when he writes:
The period of πρωῒ (proi; early) is further defined for us by Mark 13:35, which makes this the fourth watch of the night, i.e., from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Accordingly, on the first day of the week, sometime during the dark portion of the three-hour proi (dawn, early) watch, these women left the place they were residing in Bethany on the Mount of Olives carrying their prepared spices and ointments.
While they were coming, Matthew tells us, a great earthquake occurred, and with it the angel of Yahweh came down from heaven and rolled away the stone from the door. The Roman guards were shaken from fear and became motionless as if they were dead (Matthew 28:2-4).
It was at this time that Mark’s words were fulfilled, stating about the messiah, “And having risen proi (early) on the first day of the week” (Mark 16:9a). That is, Yahushua was raised from the grave during the proi watch, most likely at early dawn. Mark then notes what happened next.
This evidence shows that they were arriving at the tomb just before sunrise. As the women were walking up to the tomb, they asked themselves who will roll away the stone (Mark 16:3). Mark then adds:
This evidence proves that the two Marys came to the messiah’s tomb on the first day of the week. They left Bethany to see the tomb in the predawn, while the light was still dark or dim. They arrived at the tomb just as the sun was about to break forth (i.e., just at sunrise).
The angels who were present in the empty tomb then told the women the following. Matthew writes:
Do not you fear. For I know that you seek Yahushua, the one put on a stake. HE IS NOT HERE; FOR HE WAS RAISED, AS HE SAID; Come, see the place where the sovereign lay. And quickly going, tell the disciples of him, that he was raised from the dead, and, behold, he goes before you into Galilee. There you will see him. Behold, I told you. (Matthew 28:5-7)
The parallel verses from Mark 16:6 and Luke 24:5-7 confirm the fact that by the time the women had arrived at the tomb, which was at the latter part of dawn, just before the sun was going to rise, Yahushua had already been raised from the dead. This detail means that he was brought back to life sometime during the nighttime portion of the first day of the week.
This is what we have learned so far:
• First, the only sign given to the Jewish religious leaders that Yahushua was the messiah was the allegory of Jonah’s three days and three nights of death in the belly of the fish.
• Second, Yahushua was murdered and placed in a tomb on the afternoon of the 14th of Abib, on the day before the Jewish leaders ate their Passover Feast. The daylight of the afternoon of Abib 14 would be the first day of the three days and three nights which were prophesied.
• Third, the three days and three nights of death for the messiah were to end “amid” the third day “after” his execution.
• Fourth, Yahushua’s resurrection back to life came during the nighttime portion of the first day of the week, prior to the end of dawn when the women arrived at the tomb.
When ready, please continue with Part 2 because this is where it will all come together by giving more proof regarding on which days of the week the death and resurrection of Yahushua took place.